Connecting with audiences of all generations: How to reach & engage with Baby Boomers through to Gen Z
Funny memes, sharp tweets, and humorous greeting cards that take aesthetics to the next level are becoming a powerful messaging method for brands to connect with millennials. They aim to inspire, educate, entertain, and of course, convert the audiences into returning consumers.
Millennials are the largest group of people that brands are targeting. However, baby boomers, Gen X, and Gen Z also have a say in the tactics and channels businesses are adopting to convey their messages.
Gabriella Peace, Marketing Communications Manager UK Greetings, offers her insight on the different messaging methods that appeal to each generation and why, to help your business connect with your audiences and communicate your core values.
Baby boomers – more in tune with technology than you think
The baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are the people who lived through a decade of revolutions, and some of them were even catalysts in the emergence and popularisation of the 1960s counterculture.
Their rich background only means one thing: baby boomers are quick to adapt, forward-thinking, and change-makers. That’s why, when they saw through yet another revolution – the digital one – they were in harmony with the current events and are now thriving amongst the pool of digital tools.
There is one tool that baby boomers particularly favour – Google. The search engine is a gateway to diverse information, which is exactly what excites them. If Baby boomers come across your website, they are more likely to stay there for longer if they see value in what you’re saying to them. In fact, 66% of the baby boomers who took part in research by Immersion Active reported that they make online purchases regularly via web devices.
With 87% of those aged 55–64 and 65% of those aged 65+ owning a smartphone in 2020 in the UK, it’s no surprise that one of the baby boomers’ preferred messaging methods is text. It’s personal, relatable, and engaging, so make sure you offer texting as an option to accommodate the older demographic.
What shaped the lives of the baby boomers is TV, and that will never go out of fashion for them. Not only that but the older generation have grown up waiting on the mail to deliver them long-distance love letters and news from family afar, so direct mail is also a top preference for them. Apart from direct mail, baby boomers have a soft spot for greeting cards as they bring about a nostalgic sentiment.
Generation X – your most diverse audience
The children of the baby boomers, Generation Xers are born between 1965 and 1980 and are often referred to as the proverbial middle child of history because of their small size and influence compared to their predecessors and successors. They are called Gen X precisely because they refuse to be defined. In fact, the times they grew up in were also quite diverse; an amalgamation between nostalgia upon the 1960s and with eyes set on the technological advancements taking place.
Gen X’s profiling is also evident in the way they consume messages: the opposite of selectively. They like to stay on top of their game and have an all-sensory experience. But the best thing about them is that they are likely to remain loyal to a brand as long as it shows transparency and authenticity.
What better way to increase brand loyalty and provide a tailored experience than with email marketing? Emails and newsletters offer an outlet to include coupons and discount vouchers, birthday goodies, and personalised messages. Generation Xers have a strong disbelief in the social system turned them into the biggest money-savers when it came to school, retirement, and business funds. That is why coupons have a special place in their hearts.
Apart from email marketing, Gen Xers are in favour of direct mail. The snail mail brings nostalgia to the forefront as they reminisce over their sweet childhood memories. Nothing beats a handwritten greeting card sent directly to them as they favour the emotive sentiment!
Millennials – favour creative brand communication
‘Millennials’ has become a buzzword today and a top target generation for marketers. Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials, who are also referred to as Generation Y, are the socially conscious and eco-aware connoisseurs that pinpoint the shift from closed-mindedness to a ‘dream wild’ mantra.
They are also ingrained in the technological world where their opinions thrive, and that informs their preferences towards user-engaging platforms in the likes of Instagram and online forums such as Reddit.
With such a strong social consciousness, millennials like to take everything with a pinch of salt and will go the extra mile to do their research before making a purchase. According to HubSpot, millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts. These experts are often YouTube vloggers, bloggers, or social media influencers. So, make sure you up your influencer marketing game.
Gen Y’s are looking for brand experiences and creative ways of communication, which primarily rely on visuals, animations, and videos. It’s the story behind the brand that matters and not so much the final product. According to a study conducted by Event Brite, 66% of the participating millennials reported that they were more fulfilled with spending money on live experiences than on possessions. The reason for that is FOMO (fear of missing out). The same study showed that about 73% of respondents are driven by FOMO when deciding to spend on experiences, as well as by the fact that most of them are on a tight budget and would rather create memories from experiences.
In terms of values, brand authenticity and transparency are of high importance. They’re looking for “a targeted experience that will grab their attention right from the start” and will put quality over quantity at the forefront.
What is especially trending amongst millennials is nostalgia – a continuation of the previous Generation X. Vinyl, polaroid cameras, and fashion trends dictate millennials’ consumer preferences. It’s no surprise that greeting cards are just as popular as ever with Gen Y’s as millennials tend to send messages of support and short sentiment According to Gabriella Peace, Marketing Communications Manager of UK Greetings: “Greeting cards are all about connecting people, and even advancements in technology have not been able to replace the tradition of sending and receiving greeting cards.”
The newest addition to the generational framework is Generation Z, or also known as iGen or zoomers. Born between 1997 and 2015, they are renowned for their huge TikTok presence and knack for technologies, especially social media.
With such a constant flow of information at their fingertips, their attention span is the shortest of all the generations, precisely about eight seconds compared to twelve seconds for millennials. What this means is that short-form captivating video content is preferred, hence the popularity of the TikTok platform.
If millennials have set the league for using influencer marketing, Gen Zers are taking it to the next level. As digital natives, they live across a multitude of platforms and don’t shy away from sharing personal facts and opinions. To reach Gen Zers, brands need to not only be tech-savvy but also offer an overreaching digital experience that is a crossover between e-commerce, in-store, and social media.
In terms of the mode of communication, personal, genuine, and relatable are the top keywords. Gen Z tend to favour an authentic sentiment when it comes to greeting cards. Instagram DMs from brands have never been more powerful, especially if they aim to spark a conversation with the consumer. So, talk to your Gen Z audience online and reap the benefits of their brand commitment.
Businesses tend to adopt universal branding and marketing strategies for connecting with their audiences. “While there is an array of messaging methods that appeal to the generations, greeting cards still remain one of the most preferred methods when connecting with loved ones and friends. As a greeting card supplier of both every day and seasonal cards, we’re seeing the demand for our products increasing more and more,” commented Gabriella Peace, Marketing Communications Manager at UK Greetings UK Greetings, a greeting cards supplier. Although we’ve embraced digitalisation as a society, the traditional methods of communication never get out of fashion.